EXC Boris Johnson must launch Islamophobia inquiry or Tories risk being 'nasty and do-nothing-about-it party'
Boris Johnson must launch an inquiry into the “widespread, institutional and systemic” problem of Islamophobia in the Tory ranks - or risk being the “nasty and not-do-anything-about-it party”.
On the eve of the Conservatives’ annual conference in Manchester, the Muslim Council of Britain are urging the Prime Minister to apologise for his burka comments.
And they say the broad investigation into prejudice and discrimination he announced earlier this month “will fail to look in detail at this single, though very pertinent, issue which the party has”.
Zainab Gulamali, public affairs manager for the council, told PoliticsHome Mr Johnson “has once again failed to uphold his promise of a specific inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party”.
She said “the scale of the problem is undeniable” and that: “If you have the Prime Minister proactively making Islamophobic comments and refusing to apologise when he is called on to do, it sets the standard for all others - that is, not a high one.”
Mr Johnson has repeatedly come under fire for a newspaper column where he compared Muslim women who wear the full face veil to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.
During the Tory leadership contest he and the other candidates agreed if they won they would hold a specific inquiry into Islamaphobia, but last week one of his ministers said it was not required.
Miss Gulamali added: “The Conservative Party needs to change to no longer be a place which fosters a culture of hate.
“This needs to start at the top and filter down if it truly wants to shift its perception of being the ‘nasty party’ because as it stands, it is looking like the ‘nasty and not-do-anything-about-it party’.”
She said the anti-racist group Hope Not Hate found a significant proportion of Conservative members held Islamophobic views in a poll earlier this year.
“The first step is to recognise that the problem itself exists and, as a matter of urgency, seek to understand the full extent of it,” she added.
“It is imperative that an inquiry specifically into Islamophobia is carried out, and this is done so thoroughly, properly and impartially.”
Adding: “Confidence of Muslims in the Conservative Party is already shaky at best, and a casual commitment to tackle Islamophobia by someone who has made Islamophobic remarks and brushed them off when confronted on it certainly will not be filling anyone with much hope.
“Muslims, like any other group in society, should feel empowered to vote for and get involved in a political party based on its policies and vision for British society, not be held back by its bigotry.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: "The Conservative Party will never stand by when it comes to prejudice and discriminate of any kind.
"That's why we are establishing the terms of an investigation to make sure that such instances are isolated and robust processes are in place to stamp them out as and when they occur."